Checkpoint. 2003-07-31

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1700 to 1707 NEWS
The Auckland Regional Council has given in to calls to review its contentious rates rises, but says ratepayers will NOT get a reprieve from this year's bill. There's been widespread criticism after the council's move to a new rating system brought increases of over 3-hundred percent for some people. Now the Regional Council admits that some people are suffering genuine hardship and staff will look at all possible ways to ease the burden.
But the chairperson Gwen Bull says the council will review its controversial rating methods for next year. PRE-REC
David Thorton is from one of the ratepayer groups opposing the increases. LIVE
Five men at the centre of one of auckland's largest drugs cases have been sent to [illegible] for terms of up to ten years.
Waha Saifiti, Brett Allison, William Hines, David Dunn and Fa'afete Taito were convicted on charges of manufacturing and or supplying the drug methamphetamine.
In the High Court at Auckland, Justice Williams said the men took part in a sophisticated and well-planned operation which distributed a harmful drug which caused misery for its users.
He sentenced Allison, Saifiti and Taito to ten, nine-and-a-half and eight years jail respectively for conspiring to manufacture the drug.
Hines, and Dunn were sentenced to seven and six years respectively for conspiring to supply.
Sarah Howison was at the high court in Auckland LIVE
The directors of troubled transport firm Tranz Rail are recommending shareholders reject a bid for the company from Australian firm Toll Holdings. Toll Holdings's offer of 95 cents a share has been assessed by accountancy Grant Samuel as too low and Tranz Rail has been trading higher than that on the share market.
The Tranz Rail directors previously recommended acceptance of the Toll offer but [illegible] then the government has agreed to buy the rail network if Toll is successful and spend 200 million dollars on upgrading the track. Tranz Rail Chairman Wayne Walden says Toll's bid is not fair and directors are doing all they can to encourage superior offers and alternatives. And Mr Walden says Tranz Rail has been holding discussions with the United States firm Genesee and Wyoming. CUT
the president of the Shareholders Association Bruce Shepherd says the decision of the directors to make a recommendation is surprising. PREREC
The Internal Affairs Department has begun a crack-down on the operators of gaming machines, saying some operate inadequate systems that are open to abuse. The department has cancelled the licences at 13 sites, ordered 21 suspensions and 236 formal warnings after an audit of gaming machine sites during the past year.
And it says the community could be missing out on gaming machine profits because pokie parlours do not have the correct systems in place. Sarah North has been looking into the issue. PKG
Returning to our earlier story, five men at the centre of one of Auckland's largest drugs cases have been sent to jail for terms of up to ten years. Waha Saifiti, Brett Allison, William Hines, David Dunn and Fa'afete Taito were convicted on charges of manufacturing and or supplying the drug methamphetamine.
Detective Inspector Stuart Althorp-Smith of the Auckland police was in charge of the inquiry and he joins us now... LIVE
A new education report out today says starting secondary school can be a backward step for some students and can switch them off learning.
The Education Review Office report looks at the extent to which schools respond to the developmental needs of 13 and 14-year-olds.
[illegible] describes the third and fourth forms -- Years 9 and 10 -- as the forgotten years in the education system because they have received little attention. It says students in these years are vulnerable, and get schooling that's marginally appropriate to their development.
The ERO chief reviewer, Karen Sewell, says curriculum and programmes offered in these years should be appropriate to the students' particular interests. CUT The Minister of Education says compared with other countries, education authorities in New Zealand have been relatively slow to recognise the importance of the middle years of schooling.
Trevor Mallard presented the ERO study to more than a hundred intermediate school principals at a national conference in Napier.
Heugh Chappell reports. PKG
The head of Australia's domestic security agency is blaming American bureaucracy for wrongly identifying Australia as a possible target of a terrorist attack.
Dennis Richardson - the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) says the warning issued by the US Department of Homeland Security does not accurately reflect available intelligence. He says that intelligence identifies Australia as a possible launching pad for attacks on other countries, and the mistake in the US advisory was the probably the result of an honest bureaucratic mistake.
Our correspondent in Australia Kerry Anne Walsh told me about the latest developments. PREREC
The Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has arrived for a 24 hour visit to the Solomon Islands.
Accompanied by his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer he is touring with New Zealand members of the foreign intervention force that has now been in place for seven days.
The force is intended to bring stability to the Solomons.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has just arrived in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.
He says his first impressions of the intervention forces are positive. CUT
A Parliamentary select committee has been warned the planned Family Commission must be independent from politics or its effecriveness could be compromised. The Commission is a key aspect of the support agreement between Labour and United Future.
Public submissions have just begun on the Families Commission Bill, the legislation needed to set it up.
Our political reporter, Jane Patterson, was there. PKG
A fisherman who fell into the icy waters of the Tongariro River yesterday is thanking a Department of Conservation officer for saving his life. Peter Grange, a 69 year old man from Mount Maunganui was swept through two pools and two rapids before being saved by Turangi fisheries ranger Roy Baker. Mr Baker told me what happened... PREREC